Poetry as the Heard Word

in Spotlight
October 15th, 2013

t_lrg_iStock_000023116931MediumDoes hearing a poem change its meaning? Simon Mendes (CGS’11, CAS’13) researched the answer to this question after he attended a poetry reading by Paul Muldoon shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Mendes tells BU Today that hearing Muldoon read his poetry changed Mendes’ understanding of the poem and created a completely new experience for the audience. “I felt transfixed,” he says. “I was lost in the language. I couldn’t re-create this atmosphere reading it to myself.”

This experience prompted Mendes to study this question through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program: “If Emily Dickinson was right that there is no frigate like a book/to take us lands away, does a book of poems need to be heard, not read, to convey us to those distant shores of imagination?” Mendes worked with Meg Tyler, Boston University College of General Studies associate professor of humanities, to study “how hearing can enrich understanding.”

Read the full story by Rich Barlow at BU Today.

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